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Lv 7
small asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 1 decade ago

What is conscience? Is it not simply values fed to us in our formative years? Does a newborn baby have one?

I get a feeling that conscience is overly rated as the voice of our soul or intuitive connection with God etc. Is it really a divine part of our inner self? Does it say the same things to all of us irrespective of the environment we have been part of since childhood?

7 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Ok, I'll bite:

    Conscience is a faculty or sense that leads to feelings of remorse when we do things that go against our moral precepts, or which informs our moral judgment before performing such an action. Such feelings are not intellectually reached, though they may cause us to 'examine our conscience' and review those moral precepts, or perhaps resolve to avoid repeating the behaviour.

    Commonly used metaphors refer to the "voice of conscience" or "voice within"

    Views of conscience are not mutually exclusive...

    Secular views of conscience

    Modern day scientists in the fields of Ethology, Neuroscience and Evolutionary psychology seek to explain conscience as a function of the human brain that evolved to facilitate reciprocal altruism within societies. As such it could be instinctive (genetically determined) or learnt.

    Psychological views

    The psychologist Sigmund Freud regarded conscience as originating in the superego,Freud was an early user and proponent of cocaine as a stimulant which takes its cue from our parents during childhood. According to Freud, the consequence of not obeying our conscience is "guilt," which can be a factor in the development of neurosis.

    Physiological views

    Conscience can prompt different people in quite different directions, depending on their beliefs, suggesting that while the capacity for conscience is probably genetically determined, its subject matter is probably learnt, or imprinted, like language, as part of a culture. One person can feel a moral duty to go to war, another can feel a moral duty to avoid war under any circumstances.

    Numerous case studies of brain damage have shown that damage to specific areas of the brain (e.g. the anterior prefrontal cortex) results in the reduction or elimination of inhibitions, with a corresponding radical change in behaviour patterns. When the damage occurs to adults, they may still be able to perform moral reasoning; but when it occurs to children, they may never develop that ability.

    Religious views of conscience

    From a religious point of view, your conscience is what bothers you when you do evil to your neighbor, or which informs you of the right or wrong of an action before committing it. Doing good to your neighbor doesn't arouse the conscience to speak, but wickedness inflicted upon the innocent is sure to make the conscience scream. This is because in this worldview, God has commanded all men to love their neighbor. Insofar as a man fails to do this, he breaks God's law and thus his conscience bothers him until he confesses his sin to God and repents of that sin, clearing his conscience...

    Absolutely Without a Conscience: Antisocial Personality Disorder* as the best known and most widely studied "illness" in persons whose behaviours suggests they are in fact completely LACKING A CONSCIENCE. This is broken down into the following areas of exploration in the field of psychology (with a sprinkling of psychiatry thrown in sometimes).

    The Disease Perspective

    The Dimensional Perspective

    The Behavior Perspective

    The Life Story Perspective (Childhood Cognitive Effects)

    Dr. Robert D. Hare (University of British Columbia (“UBC”), Canada, is the world's best known authority on the Antisocial Personality Disordered. He suggests this disorder is Socio-biological in nature:

    Robert D. Hare (1993, pp. 166-67) offers sociobiology as one of several theories of the causes of psychopath …

    Source(s): And "NO" even those ascribing to a religion-based definiton of "conscience" would not argue that a baby is capable of having one! Check out the above site for serious scientists seriously studying this all-too serious subject (including but not limited to Dr. Hare). Oh Ya and Merry Christmas Too!
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  • 1 decade ago

    Great question. Yes, I believe the conscience is our connection with our Creator. Whether the environment in which a child is raised influences how the conscience develops, I really can't say. Because I know people from the same family raised in a loving, supportive atmosphere, but who turned out completely uncaring and selfish. I also know someone from a pretty cold family, who's one of the sweetest, warmest people around, who always follows what her conscience tells her.

    So my take is that the conscience is personal: God's connection with each individual he's made. We may have different purposes: some are called to be doctors, teachers, counsellors, artists, protectors, rulers, parents and so on. But the essential purpose is the same: love and help one another using whatever talents and abilities we possess.

    You may or may not believe in and listen to it, but your conscience keeps in touch. For me, its never been like a clear voice yelling in my head (how I wish it was!), but more of a subtle subtle, that I've ignored it at times, and done things that I now realise I shouldn't have. But that's make mistakes, get hurt, and then realise that the feeling inside you was right. Hopefully, as time passes, you learn to understand that feeling and make better, happier choices in the future. So I wish you a deeper understanding of your conscience...may it guide you to a positive life in the years ahead. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Some people told me the same answer, the one with god, but i don't agree. I think that it is in a large part taught, take this example: a child that is raised in a cannibal tribe doesn't think that eating someone is something wrong, it's something normal.

    But on a more serious tone conscience is probably mainly formed by our human ability to put ourselves in another person's or thing's situation and evaluating how that feels for them.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Conscience and intuition are not one and the same. Conscience is the part of you that tells you that whatever you are about to do is morally/ethically wrong. Intuition tells you that you should probably one thing over another when a choice is presented to you.

    Source(s): women's intuition
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  • 1 decade ago

    I will quote few lines from the auto bio graphy of a yogi by Param Hansa Yogananda

    "I still remember the helpless humiliations of the infancy.I was then recent fully conscious of being unable to walk and to express my self freely.Prayerful surges arose with in me as i realised my bodily impotence.My strong emotional life was mentally expressed in words of many languages.Amidst the inward confusion of tongues I gradually became accuostomed to hearing the bengali syllables of my people.The beguiling scope of an infants mind adultly considered to be limited to toys and toes.

    Psychological ferment and my obstinate body brought me to many obstinate crying spells. I recall the general familybewilderment at my distress.

    My far reaching memories are not unique.Many yogis have known to have retained their self conciousness without interruption by dramatic transition to and from life and death.

    If man be solely a body its loss indeed ends his identity.But if prophets down the millenium spake the truth, man is essetially asoul incorporeal and omni present."

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  • Karen
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    I always gave my daughter mashed up veg with a bit of cheese in it, rather than those disgusting baby food jars. They were hiduosly expensive and tasted vile anyway. And as for the rusk thing - surely all that stuff was in the chart thing on the side? Perhaps this is why we all have such an addiction to fats and carbs. It was established during our weening time!

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  • kanga
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I think it is imparted by our parents. Their and our society's values and mores (how do you spell that?!!).

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